Parenting 101 (By Pastor Rod)

I want to be sure everyone is aware, this information is not from me. These awesome words of wisdom come from my pastor, Rod Loy, who is a very Godly man and a much more experienced parent than I am. He has two sons, one who is around age 20 or 21 and the other is 18. He shared this with us last night at church, and it's too good to keep to myself. So, here goes...

Principles for effective, Godly parenting:
1. Be physically affectionate with your children.
Don't let a day go by without telling them that you love them and hugging/kissing them.
2. Model sacrifice.
Sacrifice should not be unusual. It is a part of following Jesus. Let your kids see that.
3. Teach your children an outward focus. 
Be open with your giving. Let them know it is a habit and a lifestyle. Open your home to people who need you and your family. There is joy in giving to others.
4. Don't interfere with your children's peer problems and conflicts.
They have to learn to manage conflict at some point. Let them do it while they still have a safety net. 
5. Encourage other healthy voices in their lives. 
Kids need other spiritual leaders in their lives they can talk to and with. It needs to be the right people. It doesn't take a village to raise a child, it takes a church (that's one of my favorites!).
6. Worship and pray in front of your children.
Your kids need to see you visibly love God.
7. Apologize when you make parenting mistakes.
Your kids already know you made the mistake. You will gain respect from them when you do this. 
8. Don't try to be fair and equal if you have more than one child.
Kids need to learn that life is not fair and equal all of the time. You don't have to treat your children the same because they aren't the same. (Bet that stings for a lot of you!)

The other thing he shared is what I consider to be the most important thing of all, what he and his wife wish they'd done differently. Here it is: 

Don't raise your children based on your expectations or what other people may think. Raise them to please God first, not you or other people. The only thing that should truly matter is that your children become life-long followers of Jesus Christ. Consider what matters to you most - it shouldn't be all the little details or making you or someone else happy; it should be that your children become life-long followers of Christ (noticing a theme here?). Make that decision now, and parent toward that one goal. There will be a lot less stress in your life and your home if you put aside your expectations for your child and concern for what others think. What is the absolute best place for your child? (My Daddy has told me this every day) In the center of God's will. 

So, I hope this helps some of you. I know it was eye-opening and helpful to me. I plan to put every one of those principles into action and to focus on what really matters - raising kids who know and love the Lord and seek to follow Him daily. The rest is just details.

What's Really Important

As many of you may have read on my Facebook page yesterday, I got called pathetic by a coworker for couponing. Well, this set off a flurry of comments and excitement that I totally didn't expect. And, after reading them all, I started thinking. What's really the big deal about this? All I could keep coming back to is, taking care of my family is important to me. Right now, that requires more (financial) sacrifice than it hopefully will in the future, and I'm willing to make that sacrifice. If you don't know, I'm the sole bread winner for my family right now. While pediatric fellows do make more than pediatric residents, we still don't make much money. Especially when you compare it to "real doctors" who are in practice and done with training. On top of the not-so-great salary, I have a husband and two children, one of whom has special needs. We have student loan bills, credit card bills (unfortunately), and medical bills just to name a few. I know you've all felt this way, but it seems like just as we start to make a dent in one of them, or maybe even get one paid off, here comes another one, bigger and badder than the one before. Anyway, back to the point of this post. I felt like it was important to reflect back on what's really important in my life, my priorities. So, here they are, in order:
1. God. He is and always will be the most important thing in my life. Yes, more important than my children or my husband. More important than my family or my job. To be a true follower of Christ, He has to be the most important thing in your life. Without Him, I am nothing, I can do nothing, and I have nothing. 
2. Jeremiah. Yes, my husband and my marriage is the #2 priority in my life, more important than my children. I may not always act like it, and it hurts me to say that. This is something I'm actually working on right now, to make my wonderful husband know how much I love him and that he is the #2 (#1 earthly) man in my life. Those of you who think it's crazy to have your marriage and husband above your children in your list of priorities need to read your Bible. This is a biblical thing!
3. Will and Cate. The cutest kids on the planet. Most of the time the sweetest kids too! Being a mother is one of the greatest gifts a woman can be given, and I cherish my children greatly. I will do whatever I have to (as long as it is ethically and morally sound and legal) to take care of them and provide for them. And yes, if this means couponing, well then show me the inserts and hand me a pair of scissors!
4. My family and friends. I mean my parents, siblings, nephew, etc. They are the world to me. Any of you who know me well, know this is true. I love my family. I talk to them daily, alright, multiple times a day, on the phone. I go home to my sweet home Alabama whenever it's possible. I crave the time I have with them and wish I had more. They are my support system, the walls that hold me up when all the crazy storms in my life start brewing. Love you guys!
5. My job. I love my job, and I feel it is God's calling for my life. But, that does not make it more important than my relationship with Him, my marriage, my children, my family, or my friends. I think the world has this one totally wrong, and it makes me sad. Yes, I do on occasion have to sacrifice time with my family for my job, but this is temporary, and I make every effort to never miss the big stuff. And, it goes back to my desire to provide for them. The long hours of residency are over (hooray!!!!!). And fellowship too will end (although the hours are awesome compared to residency!). My point is, a job is nice and necessary, but it does not provide what is truly important in life. A good job cannot provide you with eternal life, and that is what really matters. This life is temporary, but well, eternity is forever (duh).

I could go on and on down the list from here, but I think you catch my drift. I hope you'll take time to look at your priorities and make sure they're in the proper order. Just remember what's truly important in life. Let the nay-sayers be just that.

Not What I Was Expecting

Will had a neurology appointment this afternoon. He had an 8 hour video EEG back in April because he was still having seizures despite a fairly high dose of Keppra and hadn't had an EEG since December 2007. So, we had one, and it was abnormal. His first one was as well. He is having subclinical seizures. For those of you who aren't familiar with medical terms, it means that even when we can't see physical symptoms of seizures, his brain is still having seizure activity. It's not constant, but it is frequent. Don't misunderstand, Will is also having clinical seizures (ones we can see), but since the last medication increase about 3 weeks ago, they have gotten better. But they have not stopped completely. Anyway, today at the doctor, she was pretty concerned that his EEG was still abnormal and that he is still having seizures on such a high dose of medicine. In fact, she said she probably wouldn't have even gone that high on this medicine, but her partner did. He doesn't seem to be having any ill-effects from it. So then she examined him, and it got worse. His reflexes in his legs are more brisk than they have been before. They're actually pretty brisk. For those of you in medicine, they're at least a 3+ if not a 4+. She also illicited clonus in both legs, more beats in one leg than the other, but I can't remember which.All of these are neurological changes that are abnormal. In and of themselves they are worrisome, but add that to the fact that there is a questionable cyst on his lower spine, and it's pretty scary. Will has been seen by neurosurgery a few times for the cyst and has had a few MRIs to watch it. The last MRI showed that it was stable and that it may actually just be that his spinal cord is wider at that point than normal and not actually a cyst. This was good news. We were supposed to have one more MRI in March and see the neurosurgeon again. If everything was stable or improved, we would be discharged. Well, the appointments got cancelled because the neurosurgeon was leaving...but not until the end of June. So why was his appointment for March cancelled you may ask? I have no idea. Well, today Will's neurologist said she wanted Will to get back in with this neurosurgeon before he leaves because this needs to be addressed. This, and the fact that Will is becoming tighter in his heel cords too. He's getting tighter in his feet, ankles, and lower leg. Also not good. His physical therapist at school was the first one to notice, and I'm glad she did. So, neurosurgery is referral number one. Now, onto a different neurologist. Because Will continues to have seizures and an abnormal EEG despite a good deal of medicine, his doctor wants him to see an epileptologist. This is a neurologist who specializes in epilepsy. She's hoping that this doctor will be able to recommend any further testing that needs to be done to figure out why he's still having so much trouble and any medication changes that might help. Referral number two. Finally, she says Will should see one of the geneticists here at Children's. He has had a genetics work-up before, but because his diagnosis of Angelman is clinical and he is having all these neurological issues, she wants a different doc to take a look at him and see if there is any other testing that needs to be done or any other diagnoses to consider. Now, this is referral number three. I'm sure you all realize this, but when you take your child to a specialist for an appointment, and she wants to send your child to three more specialists, that's not a good sign. I'm not sure when all of these appointments will occur. I'm assuming the neurosurgery appointment will be within the month since that doctor is supposed to be leaving at the end of the month. A perk of being a doctor is that I can get in a little quicker, well, sometimes. The neurologist spoke with the geneticist who said for me to email or call him and we'd set it up whenever was good for me. I don't know when the epileptologist appointment will be. I think within a few months (or at least I hope) because we usually have to increase his medicine every 3-5 months (at least we have over the last year or two). Anyway, that's what happened at the doctor today. I hope it's clear. If you have questions, feel free to ask, and I'll try to answer them. I do ask that anyone who is willing pray for Will. Pray that whatever is going on won't require any major interventions like surgery on the spine. But regardless of what happens, we know God has Will in his hands and that He has a plan for all of this. It's a little scary not to be in control, but it's pretty great that God is. So, to leave you with a smile on your face, here is a picture of the cutest little guy on the planet (with his beautiful little sister)!